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Redshirts [Paperback]

John Scalzi
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Nov 2012

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is even more delighted when he's assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better . . . although there are a few strange things going on . . . :

(1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces

(2) the ship's captain, the chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these encounters

(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Suddenly it's less surprising how much energy is expended below decks on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned an Away Mission. Andrew's fate may have been sealed . . . until he stumbles on a piece of information that changes everything . . . and offers him and his fellow redshirts a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives . . .


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575134291
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575134294
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 15.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man's War was a finalist for the Hugo Award. His other novels include The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and The Android's Dream. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.


Product Description

Book Description

They were expendable . . . until they started comparing notes! This is a must-read novel for all fans of smart, witty SF.

From the Inside Flap

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the flagship Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid It's a prestige posting, and life couldn't be better . . . until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:

- Every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces.

- The ship's captain, its chief science officer and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations.

- At least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues' understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is . . . and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea but terrible execution 16 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book, having seen it was on a few 'Best of..' lists. Certainly the premise appealed to me as a fan of Sci-Fi shows and Star Trek in particular. Sadly it was a poor book. It is written almost entirely in dialogue, with each speech bubble being followed by a 'said SO-AND-SO.' After a while that gets really irritating.

'Shall we go down here' said Bill
'Let's' said Tom
'I don't know what we'll find' said Bill
'Neither do I' said Tom.

Also I found the characters to be poorly developed. They were all a bit snarky with no real defining features beyond perhaps their sex. (the female character being the only one really to have her sexuality brought into it).

I almost didn't finish it but decided in the end to push on through. It wasn't worth it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Come on, Andy! 19 Jun 2012
By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book, not having read much of Scalzi's previous work, mainly for its intriguing premise. What if, several centuries in the future, in a universe somewhat like that of "Star Trek" - starships, a galactic federation, aliens, diplomacy, space battles - the junior crew (and in particular, Ensign Andy Dahl) on one of those ships start to ask awkward questions - questions about why there are so many pointless, contrived and unlikely deaths among their ranks?

The title alone seemed to promise an amusing read, enlivened by geeky in-references. If you're interested in the book you'll probably know where the title comes from - but if you don't, the "redshirts" were the expendable security personnel in the original "Star Trek", a couple of whom would invariably accompany Kirk and Spock on hazardous missions and almost invariably get killed). Terry Pratchett said, I think, something about the minions in fantasy novels who would come running in response to the call of "Guards! Guards!" deserving a book of their own - well, here is the Sf equivalent.

In fact, this is much more than an amusing read. I don't want to say too much about what happens, for fear of spoiling the story, but as well as having fun exploring his central concept, Scalzi manges to pose a number of questions about what is real and what isn't, free will, an author's responsibility to his or her characters, and what are the hallmarks of good (and bad0 SF writing (and perhaps, writing in general). And he writes a good, page turning story as well - this isn't just a parody, or a dramatisation of tvtropes.org.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Abizer
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected a fun read. I got it.

What I also got was a well written story with characters I cared about.

Don't miss the three codas at the end - they're the best bit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick around for the Ending 18 Mar 2014
By Martin
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is as clever and funny as most of Scalzi work, with lots of in jokes of trekkies and regular jokes for the rest of us mere mortals, but the extra CODA entries really make for a wonderful ending. I won't spoil it, but your in for a treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great 4 Jun 2013
By M. G. Chisholm TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Scalzi has written some great sci-fi such as Old Man's War, however he has misfired a little on this curious mix of parody, comedy and pathos.

Essentially we have a crew of a space ship who have come to realise that they always end up getting offed whilst the senior officers lead a charmed life. Just like Star Trek whom Scalzi has some clearly disparaging ideas about. The thread of the story is the bit part players trying to work out why this is happening and to somehow stop it. I won't say too much more or it will give the game away.

What somewhat spoils this is the fact that to start with Scalzi is writing a comedy, then it turns into a parody eventually becoming a little confusing and a lot serious. It's a bit like the newer Terry Pratchett stories where the initial part of the book is good fun but tapers off towards the end. I just wish that if a book starts off this way it would continue rather than becoming ever more schizophrenic.

Effectively we have a mix of Star Trek and Galaxy Quest with some of Jasper Fford's Thursday Next chucked in for good measure. It's not all bad but it could have been great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So clever it disappears up it's own.... 18 May 2013
By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good author, clever idea and it didn't work for me.
It takes the joke about red shirted security guards in sci-if always getting killed in episodes and introduces us to a starship where reality and fiction blends rather too much. The first half of the book is the story of The Intrepid where crews members die too easily and eventually realise it may be the script that is to blame. The second half is a number of codas giving us different perspectives on the story and for me I had lost interest by then to be honest.
The trouble is, much of this has been done before, and better. So this adds very little and is not as clever as it thinks it is. Shame as Scalzi is a good writer but he is off target with this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg 15 May 2013
By Clever Spud TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The main story is a light, predictable, Science Fiction romp with Scalzi's trade-mark wise-cracking characters who all fill a role but otherwise act and speak with identical voices. His characters' lack of identity is his major failing as a writer. It isn't even a spoiler to say that the central premise of the main part of the book is "Hey, isn't it just like we're on TV". He takes that and runs with it in predictable, neatly summed-up fashion. It's mildly amusing throughout but the dialogue is like listening to a room full of old men wise-cracking before climbing into a barber's chair. The sort of thing that passes through the head of the nondescript guy standing at the other end of the bar in a Damon Runyon tale. It is wearying but tolerable over the course of the story.

The second, almost, half of the book is made up of a series of fairly strange, serious, philosophical reflections, near essays, on choices, consequences, inevitability and obligation. It isn't what I was expecting and I neither enjoyed or benefited from it.

To be honest I haven't really enjoyed Scalzi's work in the last few years but I keep giving it a shot. This is far from the worst book out there and worth a borrow if you're a Star Trek fan, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're after something truly original or interesting. His first couple of Old Man's War books are far better in that regard. If you're after wise-cracking SF then you'd do a lot worse than re-visiting the classic Stainless Steel Rat stories of the late-lamented Harry Harrison.

3.5 out of 5.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read if you're a Sci-fi fan
Great read if you're a Sci-fi fan, I found it really enjoyable from start to finish and it's made me hunt out other books by John Scalzi
Published 16 hours ago by Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, light reading for the softcore geek
Any Trekkie will enjoy this book! All the inside jokes about the redshirts being the guys destined to die, all the questionable physics... it's a part of the story line. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Hollie Harlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Trek fans are gonna love this!
Absolutely brilliant!!! For all Star Trek fans out there who always knew that if a guy wearing a Red Shirt was sent on an away mission by Captain Kirk he was a dead man walking. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Christopher Rice
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Incredibly funny, thought provoking and thanks to that final coda - extremely emotional. I would recommend this book to absolutely anybody.
Published 1 month ago by Ross
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as clever as it thinks
I have read several of John Scalzi's books and liked them very much, positivly revueing them here, but this book i did not like. Read more
Published 2 months ago by G. Bethune
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story. Annoying dialogue tags.
First off, this is a review of the audio book as read by Will Wheaton. The reading itself was good, and I have no complaints with that at all. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike N
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for sci fi fans.
Such a great read and a really interesting premise that make you think.
Well written and a enjoyable, quick read.
Published 4 months ago by Kathryn Keldeen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
The story is a slight departure from Old Man's War but contains many interesting ideas. The story is pacy and John's writing is a delight.
Published 5 months ago by DAVID CHAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Meta read
This got picked up in my local book shop just because the concept sounded intriguing. I am so glad I did. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Colin Murtagh
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best (Not) Star Trek book ever!
Bought this, read it in just a couple of days.
I love Scalzi's writing style, it's very reminiscent of Harry Harrison. Read more
Published 6 months ago by S. Beckett
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